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March 3rd, 2019

Sermon: Transfiguration Sunday

A sermon preached at St. Paul’s, Piney Branch in Waldorf, MD on March 3, 2019.
Transfiguration Sunday: Exodus 34:29-35; Psalm 99; 2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2; Luke 9:28-43a

May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts
be always acceptable, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer. Amen.

       I don’t know if The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary, has ever come here to preach at St. Paul’s, Piney Branch.  But if he has, you would know he generally likes to offer a joke at the start of his sermon.  Usually, the joke relates somehow to his sermon or the lesson(s) read in church.  I recently received a copy of the book, Lectionary Levity: The Use of Humor in Preaching, which Ian co-authored with Samantha Gottlich, a VTS alum and now priest in the Diocese of Texas.  They suggest that “humor is intended to be a way in for the preaching of the Gospel.”  So, I’ll share their offering for this Last Sunday after the Epiphany in Year C:
       “There is a dinner party of rabbits: they are sitting around eating carrots.  Suddenly, in disguise, a hare tries to join the party.  He sneaks in, sits down, and starts to eat the carrots.  He is pretty successful, managing to stay there beyond midnight.  The hare would have stayed longer.  But the imposter was exposed.  “Get out of here,” said the other rabbits.  The hare recognizes that he must depart.  A little rabbit looks up and says,” Gosh, … hare today, gone tomorrow.”
       Today is Transfiguration Sunday, where we straddle between the end of Epiphany and the beginning of yet another church season.  Later this week, we’ll be feasting on pancakes, bacon, and sausages to celebrate Shrove Tuesday before we enter that holy and blessed penitential season of Lent.
         Today signals the transition from the Incarnational Cycle of God breaking forth into the world through the birth of Jesus to the Paschal Cycle of Christ which culminates with the crucifixion, death, burial and resurrection of the Messiah.  We have an Epiphany hymn that I think describes this odd time and this unique event in far more lovely words than I could ever write.  So, I’ll invite you to turn in your hymnals to Hymn 137 if you want to hold that open and follow along ...
“O wondrous type, O vision fair
of glory that the church may share,
which Christ upon the mountain shows,
where brighter than the sun he glows!”

         Our lessons today from Exodus, Second Corinthians, and the Gospel according to Luke tell us that witnesses to the glory of God will be unable to avoid reflecting that glory in the world.  This is the “Glory that the Church may share.”  It was true of Moses as he came down from Mt. Sinai to renew God’s Covenant with the people of Israel.  It was undoubtedly true also for Peter, James and John when they witnessed the meeting of the Law, represented through Moses, and the Prophets represented by Elijah, with Jesus, God’s Incarnate Word in the World.          Read more...Collapse )